© 1998 Bernard SUZANNE   Last updated July 1st, 1999 
Plato and his dialogues : Home - Biography - Works and links to them - History of interpretation - New hypotheses - Map of dialogues : table version or non tabular version. Tools : Index of persons and locations - Detailed and synoptic chronologies - Maps of Ancient Greek World. Site information : About the author.

Chronological History of Greece in the Vth and IVth centuries BC

These pages provide background historical information on Greece in the fifth and fourth centuries B. C., the time and place Socrates and Plato lived in. Aside from political history (in black), information about the great figures of literature and thought are provided in green. Informations about the life of Plato and comments on the relationship between historical events and his dialogues are provided in bright red, and the period of his life is marked by a pale rose vertical line between the datation scale and the text, while those relating to the life of Socrates are in darker red, and the period of his life is marked by a red vertical line between the datation scale and the text
With regard to all these data, the reader must be aware of the fact that they don't have the accuracy that we expect from historical data on more recent events. Dates are often tentative, especially when it comes to the date of birth of people, and even as regards the date of death of many of them. It was common at the time to refer to Olympiads to date such events as the date of birth of a famous person, and Olympiads lasted four years. Besides, the transposition of the Greek calendar into our calendar poses a problem, because the year didn't start at the same period of the year and months were lunar months, leading to leap months from time to time to readjust with the solar calendar. Hence the habit of giving some dates with two year numers (eg.: 389/8) when the exact period of the year for an event is not known (to make things simpler here, I always kept only the first year number in such cases).
In the case of writers and thinkers, our sources often give a date (in terms of Olympiads), not so much for the date of birth, but for what they call the acme (or floruit in Latin), the time when the writer flourished, that is, was supposed to be at the peak of his genius, which they assumed to be about forty. And some would artificially assume that the immediate disciple in what they saw as a "school of thought" had to be forty years younger than his master (eg.: Zeno with regard to Parmenides). It is from this date that both the date of birth and sometimes the date of death (when the age of death is provided) have to be "reconstructed", unless they can be corelated to political events whose date is otherwise better known.

The chronology covers about two centuries, in order to provide enough background. Socrates died in 399, the first year of the IVth century, at age seventy, which means he lived through about two third of the Vth century, and Plato live his adult life during the first half of the IVth century (he was about thirty at Socrates' death and died at about eighty). Their combined lives covers roughly the period that goes from the birth of the Athenian Empire after the Persian Wars to that of the Macedonian empire of Philip and his son Alexander the Great, that is, the period of Athens greatest glory. To provide a little more context, the chronology extends on both sides, especially as regards the intellectual life and the so-called "Presocratic" thinkers and poets, many of whom are quoted or mentioned in the dialogues.

Note :if you want to search for a specific date, you may click in the index below on the closest date above the one you are looking for.

Vth century B. C. 499 489 479 469 459 449 439 429 419 409
IVth century B. C. 399 389 379 369 359 349 339 329    

Chronological table

594     Solon, archon at Athens, draws a new constitution for the city
570 Approximate date of birth of Pythagoras in Samos
525 Date of birth of Æschylus, in Eleusis.
518 Approximate date of birth of Pindar, in the vicinity of Thebes, in Boeotia
515 Possible approximate date of birth of Parmenides at Elea, if one accepts Plato's statement at Parmenides, 127a-c about the respective ages of Parmenides and Socrates at the time of their supposed meeting in Athens
508 Reforms of Cleisthenes in Athens, instituting a new system of tribes and demes within Attica and instituting the Council of the Five-Hundred (boulè).
504 Approximate date of Parmenides' "flourishing" (the time when he was forty) according to Diogenes Lærtius (which doesn't agree with Plato's data)
500 Approximate date of Heraclitus' "flourishing" (the time when he was forty) 
Approximate date of birth of Anaxagoras in Clazomenæ, near Smyrna, in Ionia
498 Uprising of Greek cities of the Ionian coast, under the leadership of Aristagoras, ruler of Miletus, and of Cyprus, led by Onesilus, brother of the king of Salamis of Cyprus, against the Persian regime of Darius. Aristagoras had tried in vain to get help from Sparta, but had found a more favorable ear in Athens, who sent a small contingent (20 ships). Together, Athenians and Ionians march on Sardis, the siege of the satrapy, and set the city afire (Herodotus' Histories, V, 99-102). But they cannot push their advantage very far and soon have to withdraw.
Darius sets out to curb the rebellion, with the help of the Phoenicians, that provide the bulk of his navy, and soon recaptures Cyprus, but has to wait until 494 for complete victory.
Assassination of Cleandrus, tyrant of Gela, a Sicilian city, who is succeeded by his brother Hippocrates.
Pindar, aged 20, composes his first extant Ode, the Xth Pythian Ode, to celebrate the victory of the Thessalian Hippocleas in the double-stadium race at the Pythian games.
495 Approximate date of birth of Pericles
Birth of Sophocles at Colonus, a deme of Attica
494 Naval victory of Darius' fleet over the rebellious Ionian Greeks at Lade, an island off the shores of Miletus, and fall of the city of Miletus at the hands of the Persians, putting an end to the rebellion started in 499 (Herodotus' Histories, VI, 6-21). Having subdued the Ionian Greeks, Darius sets to conquer Greece itself, which will lead to the Persian Wars.
493 Themistocles chief magistrate (archôn) of Athens
492 First expedition of the Persians against Greece, under the leadership of Mardonius. Moving by sea along the coasts of Thracia, the Persian fleet is destroyed by a tempest while trying to round Mount Athos, at the tip of one of Chalcidice's peninsulæ. This puts an end to this first attempt.
Approximate date of Empedocles' birth in the Sicilian town of Acragas.
491 War between Athens and Ægina (Herodotus, VI, 85-93).
490 First Persian war : Darius, having now subdued the Ionian rebel cities, sends his troops to invade Greece and, so the story goes, chastise the cities that had helped the Milesians (Eretria and Athens). Sailing through Naxos and Delos, the Persian fleet then lands in Euboea and captures Eretria before moving to Attica. But the Persian army is stopped at Marathon by the Athenians alone (and a few Platæans) under the leadership of Miltiades, who couldn't get help in time from Sparta and the other Greek cities (Herodotus, VI, 94-120).
The victory of Marathon gave Athens the feeling that it had saved Greece and deserved to lead it. This argument was still exploited in Plato's time by those who wanted to restore the Athenian Empire after the Peloponesian war. It is possible to read the story of Atlantis told by Critias in the dialogue that bears his name, as a transposition of this Persian war, with the descriptions of the palaces and cities of Atlantis meant to evoke the palaces and cities of the Great King in Persia.
One of the commanding generals at Marathon, along with Miltiades, was Aristides, who will play a leading role in the ensuing years.
Approximate date of death of Pythagoras, who is supposed to have died at about seventy-five or eighty, in Croton, in southern Italy, where he had settled years earlier 
Possible approximate date of birth of Zeno at Elea, if one accepts Plato's statement at Parmenides, 127a-c about the respective ages of Parmenides and Zeno at the time of their supposed meeting with Socrates in Athens
489     Aristides archon at Athens.
Theron becomes tyrant of Acragas in Sicily and takes control of the city of Himera. Terillus, the deposed tyrant of that city calls for help on the Carthaginians, and this will lead in 480 to the battle of Himera (Herodotus, VII, 165).
488 First application of the newly introduced law on ostracism on the person of Hipparchus, a relative of Cleisthenes (see Aristotle' Constitution of the Athenians, 22)
486 Death of Darius, the Great King of Persia, who is succeeded by his son Xerxes (Herodotus, VII, 2-4).
485 Gelon becomes tyrant of Gela, in Sicily after the death of Hippocrates. He takes control of Syracuse and leaves Gela to his brother Hieron (Herodotus, VII, 155-156).
Taking advantage of the trouble following Hippocrates' death, Anaxilas, tyrant of Reggio, at the tip of Italy, takes control of Zancle, on the other side of the straight of Messina, which he had already unsuccessfully tried to control earlier, and install there Messenian settler that will give the city its new name of Messina (Thucydides, VI, 4).
Probable date of birth of Herodotus in Halicarnassus, in the south-west of Asia Minor
First comedy contest in Athens
484 Xerxes curbs a revolt in Egypt and starts making arrangements for a new invasion of Greece via the Hellespont and Thracia, with a joint army and navy, moving in parallel by land and by sea (Herodotus, VII, 5-25).
Æschylus' first victory with his tragedies
483 Themistocles convinces the Athenians to use the profit made by the city from the newly found silver mines of Laurion to build a war fleet, at the time to help in the war against Ægina (that fleet will turn out to play a major role in the building of the Athenian empire) ; he also starts improving the harbor of Piræus (Herodotus, VII, 144 ; Aristotle's Constitution of the Athenians, XXII, 7).
482 Ostracism of Aristides, leaving room for Themistocles, his main rival. But Aristides will return to Athens along with all ostracized citizens less than two years later in the face of the peril caused by the Persian invasion (Aristotle's Constitution of the Athenians, XXII, 8).
481 Aware of Xerxes plans of invasion, the Greek cities that are willing to fight gather in the Isthmus of Corinth behind Athens and Sparta and decide to set aside their quarrels, especially the war between Athens and Ægina. Plans for the defense of Greece are drawn, locations for resistance (the pass of Thermopylæ on land and Cape Artemisium on sea) are chosen and the command in chief of the allies is attributed to Sparta (Herodotus, VII, 145 ; 172 ; 175-178). Envoys are sent to Argos (Herodotus, VII, 148-152), to Syracuse and Corcyra (Herodotus, VII, 153-168), to Crete (Herodotus, VII, 169-171), to seek assistance. According to Herodotus, Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse, was willing to provide huge assistance (200 ships, about 30.000 troops and cavalrymen, and wheat for the whole Greek army during the whole war) on condition that he be named commander in chief, but the Spartan and Athenian envoys declined the offer on such terms.
480 Start of the second Persian war : Xerxes leads a huge Persian army and fleet (see Herodotus, VII, 59-100 and 184-187 for a description of this army) across the Hellespont (Herodotus, VII, 54-58) and through Thracia and doesn't encounter much resistance at first, but part of the fleet is destroyed by a tempest along the coasts of Thessaly (Herodotus, VII, 188-191).
Going along with their plans, the Greek allies meet the Persian army at the pass of Thermopylæ, where the Spartan king Leonidas is defeated by the Persians (Herodotus, VII, 196-239), while the fleets meet at Cape Artemisium, where neither fleet gets the advantage (Herodotus, VIII, 1-22).
As a result, the road is clear for Xerxes to invade Boeotia and Attica while the Peloponnesians retreat, having decided to block the Isthmus of Corinth to save at least Peloponnese (Herodotus, VIII, 71-72). Yet Athens convinces the allies to leave the fleet in the Island of Salamis, a few miles away from Piræus, Athens' harbor (Herodotus, VIII, 40-48). The Persian army invades Attica and takes Athens, most of its inhabitants having fled in the islands of Salamis and Ægina, or across the Saronic Gulf in the Peloponnesian city of Troezen, the birthplace of Theseus. The Persians set fire to the Acropolis (Herodotus, VIII, 50-53).
But, despite the growing danger, Themistocles convinces the allies to keep the Greek fleet in Salamis (Herodotus, VIII, 56-64), and induces by ruse (see Herodotus, VIII, 74-76) the Persian fleet to wage battle on his chosen ground, between the island of Salamis and the mainland, in a place too narrow for it to properly maneuver. As a result, the Persians are defeated and their fleet totally destroyed (Herodotus, VIII, 83-96 ; for a vivid depiction of the battle, see also Æschylus' Persians, 272-510). Aristides, recalled earlier from banishment in view of the danger, takes an active part in the battle (Herodotus, VIII, 79-81 and 95).
As a result of this defeat of his army, Xerxes returns to Asia, leaving behind part of what remains of it under the command of Mardonius (Herodotus, VIII, 97-107). Themistocles is not followed when he wants to send an expedition destroy the bridges over the Hellespont to cut Xerxes' retreat (Herodotus, VIII, 108-110).
At about the same time, Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse , allied with Theron, tyrant of Acragas, defeats the Carthaginians of Amilcar at Himera in Sicily (Herodotus, VII, 165-167).
Approximate date of birth of Euripides in Salamis (some say he was born the very day of the naval victory)
479     New offensive of the Persian army left behind under the command of Mardonius. It retakes Athens, once again deserted by its inhabitants (Herodotus, IX, 1-3). The Athenians decide the Spartan to intervine and an army placed under the command of Pausanias, son of one of the Kings of Sparta, is sent against Mardonius. The Persians are defeated by an army composed of contingents from most of Greece, including 8.000 Athenians under the command of Aristides (Herodotus, IX, 28), at the battle of Platæa in Boeotia, which lasts 13 days and where Mardonius is killed (Herodotus, IX, 39-75).
Meanwhile, at about the same time, the Greek fleet sent in Ionia defeats what remains of the Persian fleet at Cape Mycale (Herodotus, IX, 90-107). These victories don't put a complete end to the second Persian War, which will keep going for several more years, until the Peace of Callias, in 449, but it marks the end of Persian incursions on Greek mainland.
Following the victory at Cape Mycale, the Greek fleet moves north toward the Hellespont and Xerxes' bridges. Once in Abydos, seeing that the bridges are destroyed, the Peloponesians decide to return home while the Athenians set the siege of Sestos, a controlling stronghold in Chersonese across the Hellespont from Abydos, occupied by Persians. After a siege that lasts several months through the winter, the place is captured and the Athenians return home (Herodotus, IX, 114-121 and Thucydides, I, 89).
Meanwhile, in Athens, Themistocles, now working hand in hand with Aristides, manages to quickly have Athens' and Piræus' walls and fortifications, destroyed by the Persians, rebuilt despite opposition from Sparta (Thucydides, I, 89-93 and Aristotle's Constitution of the Athenians, XXIII, 3-4).
478 A Greek fleet under the command of the Spartan general Pausanias, the winner of Platæa, takes Cyprus, then Byzantium. Soon after, while Pausanias, accused of behaving more and more like a tyrant (see Thucydides, I, 130), is summoned to Sparta (where, this time around, he will be cleared of accusations of collusion with the Persians that were probably not unfounded and will resurface in 470, leading to his condemnation to death by the Spartan ephors), Athens, at the request of the allies, presides over the formation of the Delian League, so named because it had its seat in Delos, a famous sanctuary of Apollo, where the treasure of the League was initially kept (Thucydides, I, 94-96).
Under the impulsion of Aristides, reelected commander in chief (stratègos) owing to his role in the victory at Platæa , the League soon assembles a fleet, put under the command of Cimon, son of Miltiades, the winner of Marathon.
Death of Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse, who by now controls all of eastern Sicily. He is succeeded by his brother Hieron. Hieron will make Syracuse a brilliant city and attract to his court such famous poets as Pindar, Æschylus and Simonides.
476 Aristides sets the initial amount of the tribute owed by each allied city to the treasury of the League kept in Delos (Aristotle's Constitution of the Athenians, XXIII, 5).
Continuing its policy of retaking the cities of Thrace and the Hellespont occupied by the Persians, started a few years earlier by the siege of Sestos (479), Athenians, under the leadership of Cimon, besiege Eion, along the banks of the Strymon river, thus setting in motion the process that will transform over time the Delian League into an Athenian empire (Thucydides, I, 98).
Pindar writes his first three Olympic odes
475 Fall of the city of Eion and its Persian garrison besieged since the previous year by the Athenians led by Cimon. Though the city is burned to the ground by the Persian governor before killing his family and himself, Athenian settler find there a fertile area to occupy (Herodotus, VII, 107 and Plutarch's Life of Cimon, VII, 1-VIII, 2).
474 Hieron, tyrant of Syracuse, defeats the Etruscans at the battle of Cumæ, a Greek settlement in the Naples area.
473 Cimon and his troops take the island of Skyros, a pirates' base in the middle of the Ægean Sea, thus making navigation in the &AEgean safe (Thucydides, I, 98 and Plutarch's Life of Cimon, VIII, 3-6). It is during this expedition that Cimon recovers Theseus' bones (he had died in this island several hundreds years earlier) and brings them back to Athens for proper burial.
472 First performance of Æschylus' Persians
471 Ostracism of Themistocles, leaving room to his main rival, Cimon
470 Pausanias, the Spartan general of royal ascent, who had been deprived of his command in 478 following complaints by the Greek allies over his tyrannical behavior and accusations of collusion with the Persians, but had nonetheless returned on his own to Byzantium and, when driven out of there by Cimon, had settled in Troas, in northern Asia Minor, maintaining relations with Xerxes, is once again summoned to Sparta and eventually convicted of treason and put to death by the ephors (Thucydides, I, 131-134).
      Birth of Socrates 
469     Athens crushes the revolt of the island of Naxos, which then becomes the first vassal state of Athens
Themistocles, still under a sentence of ostracism and living in Argos, is accused by Sparta of treason and collaboration with the Persians, following the conviction the previous year of Pausanias on similar charges. He escapes the squad sent to arrest him and, after wandering in several places, crosses over to Ionia and finally seeks refuge at the court of Persia at about the time when Artaxerxes succeeds his father. In time, Artaxerxes will name him governor of Magnesia, an Ionian city southeast of Ephesus (Thucydides, I,135-138).
468 Probable date of the death of Aristides
Death of the lyric and elegiac poet Simonides, from the island of Ceos, where he was born around 548.
467 Death of Hieron, tyrant of Syracuse. He is succeeded by his brother Thrasybullus, who is soon overthrown and replaced by a democratic regime.
First performance of Æschylus' Theban tetralogy (including Seven against Thebes), which wins first prize.
466 Naval victory of the Athenian fleet led by Cimon over the Persian fleet near the mouth of the Eurymedon river in Pamphilia (Thucydides, I,100).
First victory of Sophocles with his tragedies
465 Assassination of Xerxes, the Great King of Persia, on order from his son Artaxerxes, who succeeds him.
The island of Thasos in northern Ægean tries to leave the Delian League. Athens sends a fleet, which invades the island and set the siege of the city of Thasos. The siege will last more than two years (Thucydides, I,100).
At about the same time, 10 000 Athenian settlers sent in Thrace near the mouth of the Strymon river (the site of the future Amphipolis) are massacered by Thracians at Drabescus (Thucydides, I, 100 ; IV, 102). Later, Cimon, in relation with this affair, will be accused of having been bribed by Alexander, the king of Macedon, not to intervene, Alexander being not too pleased to see Greek settlers take foot in that area close to his kingdom, while the Athenians saw an opportunty at the time to invade Macedon (Plutarch's Life of Cimon, 14).
464 Earthquake in Laconia, the Greek province where Sparta is located, leading to a revolt of the Helots, the Spartan serfs, who take refuge at Mount Ithome, a mountain in Messenia. This uprising prevents Sparta from answering a call from Thasos, besieged by the Athenians, to come to their rescue (Thucydides, I,101).
Approximate date of Zeno's "flourishing" (the time when he was forty) according to Apollodorus (who usually makes the disciple forty years younger than his master, here Parmenides  this doesn't quite agree with Plato's data)
463 Cimon overcomes the revolt of Thasos, whose siege had started two years ago. (Thucydides, I,101).
Start of Pericles' political career, who unsuccessfully challenges Cimon on his accounting of public money (Aristotle's Constitution of the Athenians, XXVII, 1) and/or his behavior two years earlier in Thracia (Plutarch's Life of Cimon, 14 ; Life of Pericles, 10, 5).
462 Cimon, who favors an alliance with Sparta, answers her call to help against the rebelious Helots and leads a detachment of hoplites that gets stuck at Mount Ithome, where the Helots had entrenched themselves, before being sent back by Sparta, accusing the Ahenian hoplites of complicity with the Helots.
While Cimon is away, Ephialtes manages to get refoms through, that deprive the Council of the Areopagus of most of its power. This is also the time judges start getting paid for th job.
Approximate date of Anaxagoras' arrival in Athens, where he befriended Pericles
461 Ostracism of Cimon at the instigation of Pericles
460 Assassination of Ephialtes
Approximate date of birth of Hippocrates, the famous physician, in the Island of Cos.
Approximate date of birth of Democritus in Abdera in Thracia.
Approximate date of birth of Thucydides, the future historian of the Peloponesian war, in Athens, in the family of Miltiades.
Socrates is 10
459     Beginning of the building of the Long Walls between Athens and Piræus, at the instigation of Pericles.
Capitulation of the rebelious Helots of Messenia in their fight against Sparta. As a result, the Messenians leave definitely Peloponnese. Athens installs them in the city of Naupactus on the gulf of Corinth, providing itself with an ally on the western shore and a base for ships sailing toward Italy and Sicily (Thucydides, I,103).
Athens concludes alliances with Argos and Megara, enemies of Sparta (Thucydides, I,103).
War between Athens and Corinth, allied with Ægina, over the increasing presence of Athens in Corinth's traditional sphere of influence. Though Corinth is a member of the Peloponnesian Alliance, Sparta does not intervene (Thucydides, I,105).
Athens answers a call from Egypt to help in an uprising against the Persians by sending a fleet there. The fleet of the League, that was a the time campaigning against Cyprus, is sent to Egypt and is at first successful, but the expedition will end in deafeat in 454 (Thucydides, I,104).
Death of Themistocles in Magnesia, a city of Ionia, southeast of Ephesus of which he had been named governor by Artaxerxes. Some say he commited suicide to avoid making good on his promise to Artaxerxes to help him in Greek affairs when he was required to do so when Athens answered a call for help from rebellious Egypt (see Thucydides, I,138 and Plutarch's Life of Themistocles, 31,3).
458 Athens starts the siege of the nearby island of Ægina, allied with Corinth.
First performance of Æschylus' Orestia (including Agamemnon, Libation Bearers and Eumenides)
457 On its way back from an expedition to help the people of Doris, a province northwest of Boeotia that was their former home, against the Phocians, the Spartans, with the help of the Thebans, defeat an Athenian army at Tanagra, near Thebes.
Later that year, the Athenians take revenge over the Boeotians at Oenophyta, after the Peloponesians have left, thus taking control of Boeotia, Phocis and the sanctuary of Delphi (Thucydides, I,108).
The construction of the Long Walls is completed : one wall goes from Athens to Piræus, another from Athens to Phaleron.
Death of Æschylus in Gela, a city of Sicily
456 Capitulation of Ægina, an island facing Athens, besieged since 459, who is thus forced to enter the Athenian alliance (Thucydides, I,108).
The expedition sent in Egypt a few years earlier to help an uprising angainst Persia there is defeated by the Persian army and the Athenians are besieged in an island of the Nile delta. The siege will last 18 month and end by a defeat of the Athenian army. (Thucydides, I,109-110).
455 Euripides' first tragedies
454 Before the arrival of a rescue fleet of 50 ships, the Athenian army besieged in an island of the Nile delta is finally crushed by the Persians, and so is the rescue party (Thucydides, I, 110).
453 Pericles leads an expedition in northern Peloponnese against Sicyon and makes alliance with the Achæans (Thucydides, I, 111).
The treasure of the Delian League is moved from Delos to Athens, supposedly to keep it safer, owing to the Athenian disaster in Egypt.
451 A five year truce between Sparta and Athens is negociated by Cimon, back from exile.
450 Cimon takes the lead of an expedition against Cyprus in the ongoing war with Persia. He is killed in this expedition, during the siege of Citium, a city on the southern coast of Cyprus. On its way back, the fleet wins a great victory against the Persian fleet at Salamis of Cyprus, that open the way to the peace of Callias the following year (Thucydides, I, 112).
Approximate date of birth of Alcibiades.
Around this time, Alexander I Philhellen is succeeded on the throne of Macedon by his son Perdiccas II.
Socrates is 20
449     Peace of Callias, between Athens and Persia, putting an end to the Persian Wars.
The decision is made, at the instigation of Pericles, to rebuild the temples of the Acropolis of Athens, destroyed by the Persians of Xerxes in 480. It will take several years and require a lot of money : Athens will use for that purpose money from the treasury of the Delian League. Pericles himself will take an active part in supervising the work, but only the Parthenon and the Propylæa will be completed by his death in 429.
448 "Sacred war" about Delphi : the Lacedemonian return Delphi to the Delphians, but as soon as they have left, Athens takes it back and returns it to the Phocians (Thucydides, I, 112).
447 Expedition of Athens in Boeotia, in support of democratic regimes against partisans of oligarchy. The Athenians take Chæronea before being defeated by the Boeotians at Coronæa. Athens thus loses control of Boeotia (Thucydides, I, 113).
Clinias, Alcibiades' father is killed at the battle of Coronæa. Alcibiades is about four and Pericles, whose mother was the sister of his maternal grandfather Megacles, becomes his guardian.
Beginning of the construction of the Parthenon at Athens under the supervision of the sculptor Phidias and the architects Callicrates and Ictinus. It will not be completed until 438.
446 Uprising of the island of Euboea, crushed by Athens, now free of the war against Persia, under the leadership of Pericles. A similar uprising at Megara cannot be overcome and Megara is lost to Athens. Sparta invades Attica in support of Megara, but stops at Eleusis without pushing its advantage (Thucydides, I, 114).
445 Completion of the Long Walls, whose construction was started in 459 (a second wall has been added between Athens and Piræus).
Signing of the "Thirty Year Peace" between Athens and Sparta. Athens loses most of its conquests and alliances in Peloponnese (Thucydides, I, 115).
Approximate date of birth of Aristophanes
444 Foundation of the panhellenic colony of Thurii near the site of the destroyed city of Sybaris, in southern Italy, at the initiative of Athens ; colonists come from all of Greece and include such individuals as the historian Herodotus and the architect Hippodamus of Miletus (who had been in charge of drawing the map of Piræus, Athens' harbor) ; Protagoras is asked by Pericles to draw the laws of the new colony.
443 Ostracism of Thucydides of Alopekè (the politician, not the historian), Pericles' main rival in Athens, and leader of the anti-imperialistic oligarchic party, who reproaches Pericles his way of spending the city's money ; Pericles then becomes commander in chief (stratègos) and stays in that function till 429, year of his death
442 The first Sophists come to Athens. Pericles befriends Protagoras. Rhetoric starts being in vogue with, among others, Antiphon of Rhamnus (mentioned at Menexenus, 236a, and praised by Thucydides at Histories, VIII, 68).
441 Uprising against Athens of the Island of Samos. Pericles himself leads the siege of Samos which lasts nine months before the city is taken and forced to reenter the League (one of the generals in charge along with Pericles during the campaign against Samos was Sophocles) (Thucydides, I, 115-117).
First performance of Sophocles Antigone.
Euripides wins first prize for the first time with one of his tragedies.
440 Approximate date of the birth of Lysias
Socrates is 30
438 Achievment of the Parthenon, host of Phidias' statue of Athena
Approximate date of the death of Pindar at age eighty
First performance of Euripides 'Alcestis. Euripides wins second prize behind Sophocles.
436 New attempt by the Athenians to settle near the mouth of the Strymon river in Thracia, by founding the city of Amphipolis using neighboring Eion as a starting base (Thucydides, IV, 102). The area, rich in gold and silver, and source of wood for ship-building, is also coveted by the king of Macedon, Perdiccas II, and this settlement will cool down relations between Athens and the king.
Approximate date of the birth of Isocrates .
435 A democratic government that has taken power in Epidamnus, a colony of Corcyra, unable to find support from their mother city against the exiled aristocrats allied to the Illyrians of the neighborhood, seeks help from Corinth, Corcyra's mother city. Corinth, afraid that her colony of Corcyra, now rich and endowed with a powerful fleet, is breaking loose and runs against her interests, sends support to Epidamnus, but can't prevent the Corcyreans to take Epidamnus afer winning a land and sea battle around the city ( Thucydides, I,24-30). There ensues for the next two years, intense naval preparations diplomatic activity on the part of Corinth and Corcyra, the later eventually succeeding in dragging Athens on its side, leading to a second military campaign that will be one more step toward the Peloponesian war (Thucydides, I,31-44).
433 Having now signed a treaty with Corcyra, in conflict with Corinth, her mother city, after the episode of Epidamnus two years earlier, Athens sends a small fleet, under the command of Lacedæmonius, the son of Cimon, and two other generals, to fight alonside the Corcyrean fleet against Corinth. The naval battle takes place in front of the Sybota Islands, near Corcyra. At first, the Corinthians defeat the Corcyrean fleet, but then, a second larger Athenian fleet come to the rescue shows up and the Athenians accept to let the Corinthians go without fight so long as they don't invade Corcyra. Thus, both sides can claim to have won the battle (Thucydides, I,45-55).
432 The Athenians, involved in power struggles in Macedon, where they have taken side for a rival of king Perdiccas, and in bad terms with Corinth, owing to the affair of Corcyra, worry about the possible defection of Potidæa, a colony of Corinth in the peninsula of Chalcidice that had become a member of the Delian League, and is being pushed to rebellion by Perdiccas. They send troops there that first fight the Macedonians and manage to sign a truce with Perdiccas before turning against Potidæa, which has in the meantime signed an alliance with Sparta. A battle takes place in front of the city and a siege ensues, that will last till 429 (Thucydides, I, 56-66).
According to Symposium, 219e-220e, Socrates (aged about 38) took part in this campaign and saved Alcibiades' life during the battle. The Lysis is supposed to take place shortly after this battle (see Lysis, 153a) 
Approximate date of Empedocles' death at age about sixty. A legend has it that he jumped into the crater of the Etna
431 Start of the Peloponesian War
Sparta invades Attica but only raids the countryside, Athens being protected by its walls.
First performance of Euripides 'Medea.
430 Funeral oration by Pericles on the dead soldiers (Thucydides, II, 34-46). Plato alludes to this funeral oration at the beginning of the Menexenus, which is supposed to offer a new funeral oration composed by Aspasia with "scraps" of Pericles' speech, of which she was supposed to be also the author (Menexenus, 236a-b).
Later on, after a second invasion of Attica, Pericles, thought responsible for the war, is not reelected commander in chief and is sued and condemned to a huge fine.
Start of the Plague in Athens (it will last till 426) (see Thucydides, II,47-54).
Possible date of publication of the Elements of the mathematician Hippocrates of Chios, predating those of Euclides by more than one century.
Socrates is 40
429     Pericles is reinstated and elected once again commander in chief, but dies soon after from the plague 
Capitulation of Potidæa 
428 Start of the siege of Platæa, south west of Thebes, ally of Athens, by the Peloponesians and Thebans. The siege will last two years and the city will be eventually destroyed, its inhabitants fleeing to Athens.
Probable death of Anaxagoras at seventy-two, in exile at Lampsacus, in northern Ionia (according to Hippolytus, he died the year of Plato's birth)
Euripides wins first prize with the second version of his tragedy Hippolytus, the story of the sinful love of Phædra, Theseus' wife, for her son-in-law.
    Birth of Plato from Ariston and Perictionè (Socrates is 42)
427 Siege of Mytilene by the Athenians. Capitualtion of the city. Cleon, new spokesman for the democrats after Pericles' death, tries to convince the Athenians to kill all able men from Mytilene, but is overruled. Only the prisonners are killed and the walls of the city are destroyed (see Thucydides, III,36-49)
Yet, Cleon, the son of a wealthy tanner, a rogue demagogue, often mocked by Aristophanes in his plays, will become, for the years to come, the most influencial leader of Athens.
End of the siege of Platæa and destruction of the city at the request of Thebes (see Thucydides, III,52-68)
Civil war in Corcyra between oligarchs supported by Sparta and democrats supported by Athens. Athens sends a fleet in Sicily which installs, on its way, a garrison at Pylos in southern Peloponnese, not far from Sparta, headed by the strategos Demosthenes.
Approximate date of birth of Xenophon of Athens in the deme Erchia.
425 While Attica is once again invaded, the garrison at Pylos surrounds Spartan hoplites, sent to try and drive it out, in the nearby island of Sphacteria. Cleon refuses to negociate with Sparta and promises to take Sphacteria in less that twenty days. Forced by Nicias to make good on his promise, he is made commander in chief and leaves for Pylos. Following the advice of Demosthenes, he manages to take Sphacteria as promised. (Thucydides, IV,26-41). As a result, Sparta renounces to invade Attica in the future.
Cleon raises the tribute of the allies and brings the salary of the judges from two to three obols
First performance of Aristophanes' Acharnians, his third comedy, but the first still extant.
424 Conference of Gela between the waring cities of Sicily. The Syracusan general Hermocrates pleads for a general peace in Sicily and wins. As a result, the Athenian fleet in Sicily goes back home. (Thucydides, IV,58-65) (This Hermocrates is one of Socrates' interlocutors in the Timæus and Critias).
Battle of Delium, a city in eastern Boeocia, where Athens is defeated by the Thebans in a failed attempt, led by two Athenian generals, Hippocrates and Demosthenes, to promote and support uprisings of Boeotian cities with the help of local democrats intent on shaking the dominion of Thebes. Hippocrates and more than a thousand Athenian hoplites are killed in the affair (Thucydides, IV, 76-101).
According to Symposium, 220e-221c, Socrates (aged about 46) took part in this battle along with Alcibiades and Laches (see also Laches, 181b and Apology, 28e).
Thucydides, the historian, is commander in chief of an Athenian army in Thracia, but cannot prevent the Spartan general Brasidas from taking the city of Amphipolis, an Athenian colony founded near the mouth of the Strymon river in 436 (see Thucydides, IV,102-106). As a result, Thucydides is banished by Cleon (Thucydides, V,26).
Death of Artaxerxes. Palace intrigues lead to the successive assassination of two of his sons, Xerxes II and Sogdianos, who succeed one another on the throne the first for 45 days, the second for 6 months, until eventually a third of his sons takes hold under the name of Darius II.
First performance of Aristophanes' Knights, a comedy in which he makes fun of Cleon (appearing in the play under the name "the Paphlagonian"), the recent winner at Sphacteria, whose popularity is at its peak, and also stages two Athenians generals of the time, Demosthenes, the real winner of Sphacteria, and Nicias.
423 One year truce in the war. Cleon is named commander in chief of an expedition in Chalcidice.
Darius II becomes king of Persia after palace struggles with his elder brothers.
First performance of Aristophanes' Clouds, a play in which he makes fun of Socrates.
422 Cleon dies in a battle in front of Amphipolis, along with the Spartan general Brasidas.
First performance of Aristophanes' Wasps, a play in which once again he attacks Cleon, and more specifically the consequences of his decision, taken three years ago, to raise the salary of judges.
421 Following the battle of Amphipolis, negociations between the Athenian general Nicias and Pleistoanax, the Spartan king, lead to a treaty known as the Peace of Nicias, supposed to put an end to a war that had already lasted ten years. Under its terms, a truce of fifty years is decided, prisonners and captured cities should be returned, and future quarrels should be settled by negociation rather than arms. Yet, several cities, including Corinth, the cities of Boeotia, Megara and Elis, refuse to sign the treaty. A separate treaty of mutual assistance between Athens and Sparta alone includes provisions for the former to help the later in case of a revolt of Helots (Thucydides' Histories, V, 17-24).
But from the start, things go wrong : Sparta doesn't return Amphipolis and Athens refuses to evacuate Pylos. Besides, some of the frustrated allies of Sparta will soon seek alliances with Athens. If Athens and Sparta will be spared war on their own territory for six years to come, the war will never really stop in the rest of Peloponnese (Thucydides, V, 25-26).
Indeed, hardly have they left the peace conference in Sparta that the Corinthians turn toward Argos, which, as hereditary rival of Sparta for hegemony in Peloponnese, had mostly stayed out of the war so far, to induce it to take the lead of the Peloponnesian cities worried by Sparta's imperialistic stance (Thucydides, V, 27-28). Mantinea first, followed by Elis, Corinth and the cities of Chalcidice, conclude alliances with Argos (Thucydides, V, 29-31).
First performance of Aristophanes' Peace, written while the Peace of Nicias was been negociated and played a few days before the signature.
420 Alcibiades is named strategos for the first time.
Socrates is 50
418 Athens concludes an alliance with the Peloponnesian cities of Argos, Mantinea and Elis but they are defeated by the Spartans at the battle of Mantinea.
Plato is 10
Alcibiades enters no less than seven teams of horses in the chariot race at the Olympic games and wins first, second and either third (according to Isocrates, On the team of horses, 34 and Euripides quoted by Plutarch in his Life of Alcibiades, 11) or fourth (acccording to Thucydides, Histories, VI, 16, 2) place.
415 Against the opinion of Nicias, Alcibiades convinces the Athenians to undertake an expedition against Sicily
First performance of Euripides 'Trojan Women.
First performance of Aristophanes' Birds.
413 Archelaus becomes king of Macedon at the death of his father Perdiccas II by having the legitimate successor assassinated.
412 Alcibiades must leave Sparta, accused of having had an affair with the wife of king Agis and of being the father of her son. He goes to Lydia and befriends the satrap Tissaphernes.
An attempt by the Athenian generals leading the fleet in Samos to negociate Alcibiades' return to Athens and alliance with Tissaphernes fails and leads to an oligarchic coup and a change of constitution. The new regime, known as the regime of the Four-Hundred won't last long won't last long and, under the leadership of Theramenes, by the summer of 410, the former democratic regime is reinstated.
First performance of Euripides 'Helen.
411 Defeat of the Athenians at Eretria.
410 End of the oligarchic regime of the Four-Hundred in Athens and restoration of the democratic regime.
Socrates is 60
First performance of Euripides 'Orestes.
Plato is 20
407 Cyrus, younger son of Darius II, king of Persia, is named Satrap of Asia Minor in replacement of Tissaphernes, who had been convinced by Alcibiadesto switch alliances and support Athens. Cyrus is instructed to support Sparta and helps finance Lysander's fleet, eventually contributing to the victory of Sparta.
Alcibiades returns to Athens.
Death of Euripides at Pella in Macedon, where he had been living in exile the last years of his life at the court of Archelaus, king od Macedon.
406 Death of Sophocles in Athens
First (posthumous) performance of Euripides' Iphigeneia in Aulis and Bacchæ, staged by the poet's son, which won first prize.
405 First performance of Aristophanes' Frogs
404 Death of Darius II, king of Persia. He is succeeded by his son Artaxerxes II.
The Spartan general Lysander imposes peace upon Athens and institutes the rule of the Thirty Tyrants, putting an end to the Peloponesian War that had started 27 years earlier 
Critias, a relative of Plato (by now about 24) by his mother, is one of the leaders of the Thirty Tyrants, and Charmides, another of his mother's relatives, is among the Thirty (see Letter VII, 324c-d).
Sometime that year, Socrates (now aged about 66) refuses to obey the Thirty and to arrest Leon of Salamis (see Apology, 32c-d and Letter VII, 324d-325a
Death of Alcibiades at about 46.
403 Death of Critias the Tyrant during a fight in Piræus against the democrats led by Thrasybulus
The Thirty Tyrants are overthrown and democracy is reestablished in Athens
401 Failed attempt by Cyrus to overthrow his elder brother Artaxerxes with the help of an army including Ten Thousand Greek hoplites under the command of Greek generals including Xenophon and Meno of Thessalia (the Meno of Plato's dialogue by that name). Cyrus, with their help, wins the battle of Cunaxa, but is killed while trying to kill his brother during the battle. The trip back home of the Ten Thousands through Armenia and the Black Sea, which is told by Xenophon in the Anabasis, contributed to the discredit of the Persian Empire in the eyes of the Greeks.
First (posthumous) performance of Sophocles' last tragedy, Oedipus at Colonus, staged by the poet's grandson, Sophocles the Younger.
Approximate date of birth of Eudoxus, the future mathematician and member of Plato's Academy, in Cnidus.
Socrates is 70
399     Assassination of Archelaus, king of Macedon, opening a troubled period for that kingdom.
Trial of Andocides, accused by Callias and friends of impiety in relation with the Eleusinian mysteries and his earlier involvment in the affairs of the Mysteries and Hermæ back in 415. The accusation was brought forth in a speech written by Lysias, Against Andocides, and Andocides' defense is known to us from his own speech, On the Mysteries. In the end, Andocides won his case.
  Trial and death of Socrates (he is about 70 ; Plato is about 29)
Plato is 30
395 Start of the Corinthian war, that will last till 387. It opposes Sparta on one side to Athens allied with Thebes, Corinth and Argos.
The Spartan general Lysander is killed at the start of the war in a clash with the Thebans at Haliartus (Plutarch's Life of Lysander, 27-28 ; Xenophon's Hellenica, III, 5, 17-20)
Olympic Oration of Gorgias preaching Greek unity against the Barbarians whose land they should conquer.
Olympic Oration of Lysias preaching Greek unity against Dionysus of Syracuse (only a fragment is extant).
Plato is 40
387 End of the Corinthian war (started in 395) by the Peace of the King, which gives all cities their autonomy and dissolves all confederacies.
Plato's funeral oration put in Socrates' mouth in the Menexenus is supposed to eulogize the deads of this war, even though Socrates was by then long dead.
Gorgias wrote a funeral oration, now lost, for that occasion, and the Funeral Oration ascribed to Lysias (extant), whether written by him or by someone else, was also written on that occasion.
385 Birth of Aristotle in Stagira, in Chalcidice. His father is a physician at the court of the kings of Macedon.
384 Birth of Demosthenes
380 Approximate date of death of Aristophanes
Publication of Isocrates' Panegyricus, in which he presents a pan-hellenic program preaching union between the Greeks against the Barbarians under the leadership of Athens.
Plato is 50
377 Approximate date of the death of Hippocrates of Cos, the famous physician.
371 Thebes, under the leadership of Epaminondas, defeats Sparta at the battle of Leuctra.
Plato is 60
367 Arrival of Aristotle (who is by now about 18) as a student at Plato's Academy, where he will stay until Plato's death in 347
362 The Theban army is defeated, and Epaminondas, their general, killed, by the joined armies of Athens and Sparta at the battle of Mantinea.
359     Philip becomes king of Macedon at the death of his brother Perdiccas III, by eliminating his young nephew while assuming the regency.
Death of Artaxerxes II, king of Persia at more than 90. After more palace struggle and assassinations, one of his sons, succeeds him under the name Artaxerxes III.
Plato is 70
357 Philip, king of Macedon, takes Amphipolis and Potidæa, and the Thracian coast without being challenged by Athens.
356 Birth of Alexander, son of Philip, king of Macedon.
Approximate date of the death of Eudoxus, the great mathematician and member of Plato's Academy.
351 Start of Demosthenes political career with the 1st Philippic.
349     Philip of Macedon attacks Olynthus in Chalcidice, who calls upon Athens for help. Demosthenes pleads unsuccessfully in favor of help in the three Olynthiac speeches (1st Olynthiac, 2nd Olynthias, 3rd Olynthiac). Philip takes over Olynthus and the whole of Chalcidice.
Plato is 80
347 Death of Plato (he is about 80). His nephew Speusippus becomes head of the Academy in his place. Aristotle is by now about 38 and will soon leave the Academy, maybe because he was prefered Speusippus to head it.
346     Peace of Philocrates between Athens and Philip of Macedon. Philip becomes a member of the Amphictyonic Council of Delphi and is thus suppose to watch over the peace. Demosthenes agrees halfheartedly to the peace with Philip (his speech On the Peace was delivered on that occasion).
For Isocrates, as can be seen in the speech To Philip he published that year, Philip is the one who could bring peace to the whole of Greece and lead it to the conquest of the Persian Empire (which is what his son Alexander will do 10 years later).
343 Trial of Philocrates, accused of illegality in the embassy he lead to the court of Philip of Macedon following the affair of Olynthus. He is defendend by Demosthenes against Æschines, one of the leaders of the Macedonian party in Athens, who were both part of the embassy (the speech of Demosthenes, On the False Embassy, and that of Æschines, On the Embassy, are both extant, and the story is retold in later speeches pronounced in 330, Demosthenes' On the Crown and Æschines' Against Ctesiphon).
339     Philip of Macedon restarts the sacred war and becomes head of the Amphictyonic Army. In Athens, Demosthenes delivers his great speeches and tries to rally the Greeks against Philip. Thebes breaks its alliance with Macedon.
Death of Speusippus. Xenocrates succeeds him as head of the Academy
Isocrates publishes his last speech, the Panathenaicus, started in 342, when, as he says himself at the beginning of the speech, he was 94.
338 The Thebans, now allied with the Athenians as a result of Demosthenes' diplomatic efforts, are defeated by Philip of Macedon at Chæronea.
Death of Artaxerxes III, king of Persia, by poisoning at the hand of the eunuch Bagoas. He is succeeded by his son Oarses who will meet the same fate within two years.
337 Peace of Demades (after the name of the Athenian orator who initiated the negociations) between Philip of Macedon on the one hand, Athens and its allies on the other. Philip is harsh against Thebes and Athens' other allies, but soft on Athens, who is allowed to keep its fleet and most of its colonies, except Chersonese. Yet Athens must join the Corinthian League, sponsored by Philip who becomes thus the hègemôn of all Greece, that is, both its military and political leader.
336 Assassination of Philip of Macedon, probably at the instigation of his former wife, the mother of Alexander. His son Alexander the Great becomes king of Macedon.
Death of Oarses, king of Persia, by poisoning at the hand of the eunuch Bagoas, like his father. He is succeeded by his cousin, a great-grandson of Darius II, who becomes king under the name Darius III.
335 Campaign of Alexander in Thracia. Upon hearing rumors that he has been killed, Thebes tries to rebel against the Macedonians. But, less than two weeks after getting the news, Alexander is back at Thebes to quench the rebellion. Several thousands Thebans are killed, tens of thousands, including women and children, made prisonners and the city is razed, except for its temples and Pindar's house.
334 Aristotle returns to Athens and starts teaching in the Lyceum
331 Alexander enters Susa, the administrative capital of the Persian Empire, then Persepolis and Pasargades, the holy cities of Persia and takes hold of the treasury of the empire.
330 Death of Darius III, assassinated by his Satraps. This marks the end of the Persian dynasty and Empire, by now at the hands of Alexander.
323 Death of Alexander the Great during an expedition in Asia
322 Death of Aristotle in Chalcis, in the island of Euboea, where he had fled in exile "to spare Athens another trial of a philosopher"
Suicide of Demosthenes after the defeat of the Greek against the Macedonians at Crannon, so he will not be taken alive by his ennemies

Plato and his dialogues : Home - Biography - Works and links to them - History of interpretation - New hypotheses - Map of dialogues : table version or non tabular version. Tools : Index of persons and locations - Detailed and synoptic chronologies - Maps of Ancient Greek World. Site information : About the author.
First published January 4, 1998 - Last updated July 1st, 1999
© 1998 Bernard SUZANNE (click on name to send your comments via e-mail)
Quotations from theses pages are authorized provided they mention the author's name and source of quotation (including date of last update). Copies of these pages must not alter the text and must leave this copyright mention visible in full.